Bella Napoli Francesco MANCINI (1672-1737) Sonata IV for recorder and bc in a minor [9:30] Domenico SCARLATTI (1685-1757) No, non fuggire o Nice, cantata for soprano and bc [10:00]
Sonata for violin and bc in G (K 91) [8:45] Giuseppe PORSILE (1680-1750) E già tre volte, cantata for soprano, recorder and bc [10:21]
Nicola PORPORA (1686-1768) Sonata for cello and bc in F [6:53] Alessandro SCARLATTI (1660-1725) Quella pace gradita, cantata for soprano, recorder, violin,
cello and bc [19:18]
Baccano (Tuuli Lindeberg (soprano), Hanna Haapamäki (recorder),
Mervi Kinnarinen (violin), Jussi Seppänen (cello), Eero Palviainen
(lute, guitar), Markku Mäkinen (harpsichord))
rec. November 2008, Olari Church, Espoo, Finland. DDD
Texts and translations included
ALBA ABCD315 [64:57]
Naples has always been one of the musical metropolises of Italy,
but it became especially important in the first half of the
18th century. Many composers were active in the city, in particular
in the realm of opera, and a number of them were also teachers
at the various conservatoires. In particular in the 1730s the
Neapolitan style began to disseminate across Italy, and even
beyond the Italian borders. Some of the best castratos were
pupils of one of Naples' most famous composers, Nicola Porpora.
One of them was Farinelli, who scored triumphs all over Europe.
This disc brings a programme of music by composers from Naples,
although probably not every single piece was composed in Naples.
Nicola Porpora and Francesco Mancini were mainly known as composers
of music for the theatre, but are represented here with instrumental
pieces. It can hardly surprise that these show the traces of
their activities in the theatre. In Mancini's Sonata IV
this is somewhat limited, especially because of the relatively
small dynamic range of the recorder. The opening movement is
the most dramatic, consisting of two contrasting sections: a
lively spiritoso suddenly shifting into a largo. It doesn't
quite come off here. Otherwise the playing is fine, in particular
rhythmically. The closing movement is an allegro spiccato -
in the baroque era the term 'spiccato' is synonymous with 'staccato'.
In comparison Porpora's Sonata in F is more dramatic,
and the cello's wider dynamic range is fully explored. The first
allegro is particularly well played, with strong dynamic accents.
The following adagio shows a great amount of expression, and
the sonata ends with a more relaxed allegro non presto, in a
nice dancing rhythm. Domenico Scarlatti hasn't written many
pieces for an instrumental ensemble. Here his Sonata for
violin and bc in G is played, strangely enough catalogued
by Kirkpatrick among the keyboard sonatas. It comprises two
expressive graves, which are beautifully played by Mervi Kinnarinen.
The two allegros have an infectious rhythmic pulse which is
underlined by dynamic accents on the good notes.
Domenico Scarlatti also composed many chamber cantatas, and
this part of his oeuvre gets little attention. I wasn't able
to find out when No, non fuggire o Nice was written.
In the liner-notes for another disc it is suggested that the
cantata could have been written for the above-mentioned Farinelli
who was in Spain when Domenico was also working there. The cantata
consists of two recitative-aria pairs. The second aria in particular
has a dramatic character, which Tuuli Lindeberg explores well.
She colours her voice nicely, and her lower register is remarkably
strong. The delivery is also good, and she takes some liberties
in the recitatives. Some words could have been given a little
more weight, though. That is also the case in the cantata by
Domenico's father Alessandro. It is bad fortune that only last
year another disc was released with this same cantata. This
was by Clara
Rottsolk and the Tempesta di Mare Chamber Players. Ms Rottsolk
gives more expression to the text in the recitatives, but the
instrumentalists accompanying her are sometimes a little too
restrained. That is certainly not the case here: the instrumental
parts are executed with theatrical flair. The scoring is rather
unusual: recorder, violin, cello and bc. The cantata opens with
a sinfonia with two andante sections in which the ensemble is
divided: recorder and bc versus violin and cello. There is some
good text expression in the first aria, and the lyricism of
the second comes off well in Ms Lindeberg's performance.
Lastly the only unknown composer of the programme: Giuseppe
Porsile. His first appointment was as vicemaestro di cappella
of the Spanish chapel in Naples, but in 1695 he was asked by
Charles II to organise the music chapel in Barcelona. He served
Charles' successor Charles III, and followed him to Vienna in
1711, when he was crowned emperor. There Porsile remained, composing
many operas and oratorios. It is not very likely that Porsile's
cantata performed here was composed in Naples. E già tre
volte is scored for soprano, recorder and bc, and the two
soloists blend perfectly. The first aria is especially expressive,
with some chromaticism in the vocal part and the basso continuo,
inspired by the text: "My harsh fate seems to pity me for
Baccano is a Finnish early music ensemble which was founded
in 2003. As far as I know this is their first commercial recording,
and it is a very fine one. I am impressed by both the technical
skills of the individual artists as well as their approach to
the music. Their performances are lively and energetic, and
the interpretation is well-considered. This is definitely a
group to follow and I look forward to their next recordings.
Johan van Veen
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